Updated: Apr 4, 2022
This 5 minute lesson first shows you where to play this really important scale shape, and then applies the chord tones that we learnt in the last lesson to this scale shape.
Here's a link to the chord tone lesson if you missed it:
The pentatonic scale is often the first one we learn on guitar, especially if you're into blues or rock, as it is also one of the most common used.
Also, once you have a good knowledge of it, it's very easy to use it to create the more advanced diatonic modes, like the dorian, phrygian and so on, or even other scales like the melodic minor.
Have a look at this blog here for loads of more information on how to achieve this:
The A minor pentatonic scale, position one, starts on the 5th fret. You can see the scale shape here:
And here's the tab for that:
Play this up and down, take it slowly and just make sure the notes are nice and clean. Follow the fingering in the video. Never aim for speed, certainly not at first, just get the fingering smooth and accurate. Speed will come in time.
Notice it's almost exactly the same as the A minor barre chord shown here? It's just got a few more added notes:
Now you're familiar with the pattern, let's look at the chord tones. As mentioned in the post linked above, these are the notes that make up the chord, in this case A minor is made from the A, C and E, and so they always sound great when played against that chord.
In a scale, there are also notes which sound weaker and, although they are fine to use, you shouldn't hold them at the end of licks unless looking for a specific sound. An example of this would be the 4th note, D.
So, the next logical step is to make sure we know where these chord tones lie in our scale pattern. If we know this, then when we want to play in a different key, as the scale shape stays the same, the chord tones also remain in the same position. So this means we can be sure of sounding good and still knowing whether we're playing a root (1st) a minor 3rd, or the perfect 5th without really worrying too much what the actual notes are.
Here's where the root note (1st) lies in our pattern (the red circle marked R):
And our minor 3rd (the blue triangle marked b3):
And finally the perfect 5th (green diamond marked p5):
To get the sound into your ears, try playing the scale up and down, and then stopping on the 1st (R) and holding that note. Now, again but hold the b3; and finally holding the p5. Notice how they all sound against the scale.
Here's also backing track solely in Am. Use this to give more context to the scale and chord tones. Once again, play the scale over it to get used to the sound, then try the above exercise swapping the held notes.
In the next lesson, we'll add 4 licks that we can use to help practice a number of different techniques from hammer ons to sweep picking to string skipping, while also focusing on finishing on the strong chord tones which will ensure our licks sounds great.